Energy giant EdF has this week gone against local opinion and ruled out building a bypass around the town of Bridgwater in Somerset to support the construction of a new nuclear reactor at nearby Hinkley Point.
It is proposing instead a much shorter bypass of the nearby village of Cannington.
EdF Energy published wideranging detailed proposals for construction of the plant on Friday ahead of a second 12 week public consultation.
The consultation is necessary before a formal planning submission can be made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).
The detailed proposals attempt to tackle concerns raised during EdF Energy’s first round of consultation last year. Specific concerns were raised about labour force requirements, accommodation planning, and traffic impact.
But EdF Energy’s latest proposals discount construction of a bypass of Bridgwater to relieve congestion that is expected to be caused by construction traffic.
This is despite calls from Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset District Council for EdF to investigate a bypass option.
Sedgemoor District Council said EdF’s decision was “disappointing”.
“The views of local residents and businesses are important to us and a key element in the consultation process”
A parallel consultation by consultant Arup for Sedgemoor and West Somerset district councils examining EdF Energy’s first round of consultation found that there was not “a cogent reason a to why the Dunball bypass route had never been considered”.
The Dunball bypass route was first proposed in the 1990s as part of an earlier consultation exercise regarding construction of a new reactor at Hinkley Point.
It would take traffic from the M5 around Bridgwater and Cannington to the C182 road which then leads directly to Hinkley Point.
Local residents were highly critical of EdF Energy’s transport plans during the first round of consultation, with 54% declaring themselves “not at all satisfied” with the energy firm’s proposals.
EdF Energy admitted that there was “widespread public support for a northern Bridgwater bypass combined with an outer western bypass of Cannington”. It is proposing a western bypass of Cannington alone.
The consultation document says the impact of constructing the Bridgwater bypass would outweigh the benefits. “EdF Energy has concluded that it is appropriate to provide a bypass to Cannington in order to further mitigate the impacts of the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Project.
“However, EdF Energy has further concluded that it would not be appropriate to provide a bypass to Bridgwater since the mitigation which it could offer to the HPC project effects is minimal and the impacts of bypass construction are substantial,” it says.
EdF Energy claims the Dunball bypass could not be completed until 2016, five years after main construction works at Hinkley are due to begin.
It claims it would also cater for just 6,500 cars per day − only half its design capacity, and remove just 800 cars per day from the northern distribution road it would be designed to relieve.
“It is a disappointment,” said a Sedgemoor District Council spokesman. ” It has been dismissed again, but you will have to watch this space for a detailed response.”
Sedgemoor has yet to receive hard copies of EdF Energy’s documentation for the second round of consultation. This comprises around 10,000 printed pages. Most of the other local concerns have been addressed in the new proposals, however.
Plans for accommodation blocks for workers at park and ride facilities in the villages of Cannington and Williton were unpopular with residents, and EdF Energy has abandoned plans for accommodation at both.
Park and ride facilities in both villages have been scaled back and Cannington will not now have a freight centre. Larger park and ride centres will be situated on the outskirts of Bridgwater, as will larger freight centres.
EdF Energy planning and external affairs director for nuclear new build Richard Mayson said the firm was determined to be a good neighbour.
“We will work with the community to minimise the impacts of the development and to ensure that our potential multi-billion pound investment delivers real opportunities for local people and businesses, as well as providing the nation with affordable low carbon electricity for 5M homes,” he said.
“The views of local residents and businesses are important to us and a key element in the consultation process.
“Our plans have moved on and are now more detailed so I do hope people will take part again and share their views with us.”